I Sinned at Church

in A Different Life

As I ponder telling you about the inner workings of my mind today, my stomach churns. If you could take a tour of my mind, would you be disgusted? Would the continual din of discontentment, criticism and judgment lead you to put both hands over your ears and shout out, “shut up! I can’t take anymore!”? Or would you sit beside me in my mind and co-miserate? The answer to that question scares me.

As I sat in a church recently, I couldn’t stop the thoughts from entering my mind. I wanted to turn all of me over to God. I wanted to worship Him honestly and not just in song, but my mind wouldn’t sit still. It was like a child asked to sit through a four-hour sermon, and this was in the first five minutes of the service! I kept grabbing it by the collar and telling it to sit down and be quiet, but it refused: it just kept grabbing at things, “What is she wearing? Why did he say that? When will they turn off the air conditioning; it’s 32 degrees out!” As my eyes followed the lyrics on the screen, my lips moved and sound came out, but my mind was busy with other things, until I finally reached up and smacked it upside the head.

Now, one might call that brain abuse, smacking your grey matter around like that. After all, I’m only human, and human minds are prone to wander, right? True! So true. But the wandering has got to stop, it’s ridiculous. The cacophony of my thoughts drown out any and all of the reason we were there in the first place; to worship God. I love going to church. I love corporate worship, but so many times my mind is too distracted to worship anything other than itself. And that bums me out. No, it makes me sick. And so I decided to do a little house cleaning by getting rid of all that noise through confession. After all, I reasoned, confessing a sin is the first step in walking away from it.  And so I sat down in my seat, while everyone else stood. I told my brain to quit worrying about what they would all think, and I confessed. I confessed as many sins as I could count from the moment I woke up that morning till that moment in church. And I counted eleven. That’s eleven sins that I could remember, that I could identify. Ugh! Who does that? Who sins eleven times on the way to church? Me! That’s who. What a freak. But thank God for his even more freakish grace and the reminder of Romans 8:1, that “there is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” What glorious news, cuz my mind’s a mess! And the more aware I become of God’s goodness, the more vividly I see my filth, and so need his grace daily.

The honest truth is I probably sinned far more than eleven times that morning; I’m just blind to it. But in my disgust for the eleven, I am overjoyed that the Spirit gave me eyes to see my sin. But not so I could get out the bleach and Brillo pads to start feverishly scrubbing away at the stains in my life. That’s the old Hayley’s desire. My desire now is to be different. To realize God’s amazing grace in the moment when God reveals my sin to me, even in church, then rest in the peace that he is enough.